It was a quiet week in Dallas with the Cowboys on a bye, which might not be what was expected but was exactly the right thing with Dak Prescott and Tony Romo and all the questions about their starting quarterback.
Who? When? Why? For how long?
It wouldn’t take much to turn a discussion into a distraction they don’t need, coming back this week to play Philadelphia.
There is a right way and a lot of wrong ways to handle that situation, and you can look at what happened in Denver last year as the correct way. You have a veteran quarterback who has an injury and you put a young kid in there and he plays well and the team is playing well. You don’t disrupt that.
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If Dak slips up, then Tony can ride in on his white horse and save the day.
But anything else is going to be bad for team chemistry. It’s going to be bad for the fans. Everybody at this point wants Dak to play. He deserves it. And, right to the heart of it, it’s hard to get on a roll like this and win games in the NFL regardless of how good a team is or how good the guys are around the quarterback. The league is set up for everybody to go 8-8. It’s tremendous for this team to jump out there with a rookie quarterback and be 5-1 and sitting on top of its division.
It’s a credit to coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan getting that kid ready to play and Dak having the skill set. The way I see him go through his progressions and not panic at the end, he’s well ahead of the game. One of two things happen in your progressions: You make a play or you panic and you try to make something happen that’s not there. Look at Ryan Fitzpatrick. As experienced as he is, he has thrown a league-high 11 interceptions.
Dak gets to the end of his progressions and he steps up and slides, has his eyes up and still is a passer, and he’s able to move. He’s able to step up and run and get hidden yardage. He doesn’t have to panic. He has that extra attribute of pure athleticism and never or very rarely gets to a situation where he lets the defense dictate what’s going to happen.
As a play caller, you can utilize that. You can move him. You can get him out of the pocket. He throws well on the run, makes good decisions out of the pocket. You rarely see him force a ball, even though he has the arm to do just that. You just don’t see him get into those situations.
You see a Jameis Winston, where it’s: “I think I can get this one in there.” Uh, no, you can’t. You don’t ever see Dak in that situation. He realizes the big picture, and at this young age I couldn’t be more impressed. He’s playing as well as anybody in the league.
With Dak, you just roll with him and if he struggles and slips up and Tony is healthy – and I have to believe he is pretty close right now – then he can go in and play and see how far they go, and Dak still is your future. That’s not going to change. He’s going to be there for a while. It’s not like Brock Osweiler, where he was going to be out of Denver after the season as a free agent.
Dak is going to be there for a while. That’s how you have to play it. Time is on your side. It’s a great problem to have if you’re the Cowboys. Tony is a great quarterback getting healthy and you’re playing with a kid who gets it and is able to lead a team, is able to relate to the veteran guys and there are no issues there. Say, “We have to get Tony back healthy.” Honestly, you’re never going to be 100 percent. But he’s just got to keep working back to get there and the longer the better. He’s not going to come right off the bench and play phenomenally. That’s going to take a little while, too. That’s kind of the sidebar to this conversation. If he does go in, he has to play well.
If you play it any other way, it’s going to be bad.
If you pull Dak right now, Tony can’t win. He has to win every game. He literally would have to go all the way to the Super Bowl and win it. That’s the only way he can do anything positive.
Question of the week
From Marge Williams: What one thing did your parents instill in you growing up that you still carry with you today and has helped you become the person that you are?
The best advice I was given – it was instilled in me by my father – was just outwork everybody. If you look at it from our family’s standpoint, a lot of brothers want to play football, but to think that we just decided two kids from Bakersfield were going to be NFL quarterbacks, that just doesn’t happen. Yes, we were blessed athletically and that’s all good. God has a hand in it, but you have to do your part, too. That’s where the hard work comes in.
I’ve seen a number of players in high school and even through college who are so talented and they squander it. They waste it on things that don’t matter. They waste it on outside circumstances, whether it’s hanging out with the wrong people, doing the wrong things.
We would be throwing balls in the parking lot. My friends even to this day will say, “I still remember driving by after practice is over and you’re out there throwing the football. Why were you out there?” I didn’t get it, but I get it now. This is the result of it. If you’re willing to put in the effort that other people aren’t, you’re going to be able to go where they can’t. That’s something my dad always said to us – and it’s true. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can do some cool things.
David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.
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